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Legislative Changes to Conservation Authority Permitting

On February 16, 2024, a new Minister’s regulation (Ontario Regulation 41/24: Prohibited Activities, Exemptions and Permits) under the Conservation Authorities Act was approved by the Province. This regulation will replace the existing individual “Development, Interference with Wetlands and Alterations to Shorelines and Watercourses” regulation and took effect on April 1, 2024.  


“While this represents a single regulation for all Conservation Authorities, much of the regulatory process remains the same,” explains James Bryant, Director of Watershed Management Services for the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA). “Conservation Authorities will continue to require applications for a permit to undertake otherwise prohibited development, interference and alteration activities in regulated areas as defined under the Conservation Authorities Act and in O. Reg. 41/24.” 


While much of the regulatory process remains the same, key changes include the definition of a “watercourse”. As well, the regulated area around wetlands will be consistent at 30 metres, including around provincially significant wetlands. There are also some permit exceptions for what the province has determined to be certain low-risk activities. 


“Some of these low-risk activities include the construction, reconstruction or placement of a seasonal or floating dock less than 10 square meters that can be removed in the event of flooding, or a non-habitable accessory structure 15 square metres or less, not within a wetland or watercourse,” Bryant explains. “Applicants are encouraged to confirm exceptions with ERCA prior to carrying out any work.” A complete list of identified exceptions identified in the Regulation is on ERCA’s website.  


The Essex Region Conservation Authority is a public sector organization established by the Province of Ontario in 1973 and governed by local municipalities. For more than 50 years, it has delivered programs and services that further the conservation, restoration, development and management of natural resources in watersheds in the Windsor-Essex-Pelee Island region.  

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